A Guest Post by Herder
Sometimes, I start to list the things I like about the show, but then I run out of digits. One thing stands out, though. It’s those moments when Chuck and Sarah have been able to step back, away from their struggle to find each other, concentrate on something else and just be comfortable with each other’s presence. Prior to season 3.5, those moments were too rare. The first time I realized how much I enjoyed that is exactly pinpointed by Herder.
“He was always a genius this one”
“Not like you”
“No, he was smarter”
-Stephen and Chuck Bartowski
Why Dream Job
Over the past few weeks we have looked very closely at what happened in Season 3, partially because of my own ambivalence about much of the first thirteen and the fact that so much has been written about it I wanted to take a closer look at what I think is one of the most important episodes in season two and speculate what if anything that it may say about what is to come. Also there are parts of it that I think put it among the best episodes of the series, I say that knowing that many are not big fans of this particular episode.
When the show is on, it is among the best on TV, but that sort of begs the question about what is it that constitutes the show being “on”. For me it is a combination of factors, first of all the relationships between the characters, the Chuck/Sarah relationship is the foremost of these, but not the only one, there is also the Chuck/Ellie, Ellie/Awesome, Chuck/Casey, Chuck/Morgan and many others. There is the comedy, the spy stuff, music and the intersect mythology too. Strike the right balance and it is great, miss that balance and you get 3.06 to 3.12.
To my view Dream Job gets that balance right without overemphasising the Chuck/Sarah relationship and, if anything it is heavy on the mythology which helps to explain what is going on in the episodes surrounding it .
Two of my favourite Chuck/Sarah bits take place in Dream Job, the first is Sarah’s pride in Chuck when his father is praising him at the beginning in the trailer. At this point in their relationship they are very close but can’t physically express it (the previous episode was Broken Heart) so she helps him find his father and she glows to realize that he sees some of the qualities in Chuck that she does. The second is her encouragement of Chuck to take the interview with Roark Industries as himself, “you’re going in as yourself; your name, your Stanford degree, your resume, you’re perfectly qualified to go in as yourself”, this is the incredibly supportive Sarah that disappeared for much of season 3.
It also has one of my favorite Chuck/Ellie bits when he talks to her after she runs from her father (“pancakes?”) . This is one of the few times in the series where it is Chuck comforting and supporting Ellie, usually it is the other way around, it shows a bit of why these two have such a close bond, they are there for each other. There are some strong Ellie/Awesome moments too, the argument about the bachelor party hasn’t gone away but they are dealing with it and Awesome making pancakes for Ellie at the end is touching.
Chuck and Casey have a confrontation over Chuck’s going to Roark Industries at the end and it is realistic as regards the relationship between them which is not a relationship of equals at this time. Morgan has some good bits being hurt at what he sees as Chuck moving on without him and not being consulted by Chuck before he makes big decisions.
Scott Bakula is great as Stephen at first drifting between crazy and strong: “they’re watching my every move the rat bastards”, his argument with Ellie about Chuck “Roark isn’t worthy of your brother or his talents”, his talk with Awesome about why Ellie is so mad and his talk with Chuck in the bedroom “is it still my minute” “I miss getting advice from you”. Then in the reveal that he is Orion “I’ve had to die a few times over the years, an occupational hazard of being Orion” “…and we’re going to be a little bit dead if you don’t flash”. I understand the story reasons for killing him off in the Ring Part 2 but he is a real loss to the show, much like Carina he energizes the show when he is in it.
Infiltrating Roark Industries under the guise of applying for a job and the truly great picture of Sarah and Casey in disguise as nerds. In this case the spy stuff is played for comedy and then it veers into the mythology.
There is so much, the crazy dad stuff, Chuck’s physical comedy on the ball chair, nerdy Casey and Sarah, the awkward dinner with the family, Chuck tranqing Casey -three times-, Casey’s oooh before passing out. Also the whole Chuck running with the release of Rios device, Jeff and Lester embracing anarchy by helping him, Jeff’s storm trooper sweater. And Chuck tranqing the six bad guys to save his dad. Lots of well done comedy.
Three great songs that are integrated into the story and add to it. First “Around the Bend” by Asteroids Galaxy Tour, ties into the confusion of Chuck being in a new and uncomfortable situation as he walks into Roark Industries. “Luisa’s Bones” by Crooked Fingers narrates Chuck donning his mission suit and getting the pistols for the first time in the series, a big step for our boy. Finally “Daddy’s Gone” by Glasvegas narrates Ellie’s sadness that Stephen has once again ran from her life and Orion’s working on the intersect to save his son. This is something that this show does better than anything else on tv at the moment, connecting the music to what is going on on the screen. Dream Job is one of the better examples of it.
This is a big mythology episode, both for last year and I think going forward. For last year we had the Orion reveal, Roark working for Fulcrum to create an begin, these two themes played out for the rest of that season. What I want to talk about are the mythology bits that haven’t yet played out. “God Ellie you look just like your mother”, this is the basis for many pushing for Linda Carter or Mary McConnell to play Mary Elizabeth Bartowski. “You were always good with computers and I was always good with the ladies, do you remember that Orion” this lead to a lot of speculation that Roark had something to do with Mama B leaving. The only other references to Mama B in the series up to this point were mother’s day in Sizzling Shrimp, and Chuck saying how it was when she left in Best Friend, then nothing until the Ring Part 2.
Chuck’s speech to Sarah and Casey in Casey’s apartment is, I think critical, he goes on about Roark creating an intersect and Rios being a sort of data mining program “stealing information from the government, business, everybody, anybody”. I know that some are upset that Sarah didn’t stand up for Chuck, but again remember this is the episode after she almost got fired for being too close to Chuck, I can see her not wanting a confrontation with the General about something for which there is no proof, just a hunch of Chuck’s. The first part of Chuck’s speech, the intersect was dealt with in season 2, the second part has been left unaddressed. As to Chuck’s hunches just remember he is a genius, smarter than Orion, we were told that at the beginning of the show. So my guess is that we see a return of Rios, this time in action after being in circulation for almost two years. After all the mission that they were on was that Rios was thought to be some sort of computer virus, it was never thought of as benign, it was simply lost in the concern over Fulcrum having an intersect.
The Chuck as a genius idea is something that I think will be addressed in season 4, he has Orion’s lair, he has the equipment, he has the makings of his team. Now it is up to him to put it all together and show that his father was right, he is a genius who is smarter than Orion. We have seen bits of Chuck’s genius over the years, usually it shows itself in finding novel solutions to problems (isn’t that the definition of genius) even Casey said “before the intersect you were smart”.
This is why I love Dream Job, it opened the way to the show becoming more than it had been, it combined all the elements without any of them over whelming the rest. It was written by Phil Klemmer (no longer with the show) and Corey Nickerson (not sure of his status) in such a way that it introduced ideas and plot lines without losing the things that make the show great.
So what do you think, do I have something or is this merely the rantings of an obsessed fan?